Softball Holds Off Southern Miss

    Christa Raley matches a career-high with four RBIs in the series finale against Southern Miss.
    Christa Raley matches a career-high with four RBIs in the series finale against Southern Miss.
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    April 23, 2006

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    HOUSTON - Christa Raley went 2-for-3 matching a career-best with four RBIs to lead the University of Houston softball team to a 5-3 victory in the final game of a Conference USA weekend series Sunday afternoon at the Cougar Softball Stadium.

    The Cougars (31-18, 12-6) complete the weekend sweep over the Golden Eagles and move into a first place tie with Tulsa in the C-USA standings.

    "This was a big series sweep for us," head coach Kyla Holas said. "We now have a chance to control our own destiny and reach one of goals which was winning the regular season conference title."

    Angel Shamblin fired a complete game to improve to 13-6 on the season, spraying seven hits and allowing just one earned run. She struck out six batters against three walks.

    With the six strikeouts, Shamblin passed Jenny Johnson's 139 Ks set during the 2003 season. Shamblin now sits at 144 strikeouts for the season and has equaled Jamie Falco's mark during the 2002 campaign.

    Southern Miss (25-30, 10-8 C-USA) trimmed a 5-1 deficit down to 5-3 in the seventh inning capitalizing on two Houston infield errors.

     

     

    With one out and the bases still loaded, USM first basemen Krystal Crooks hit the ball on a rope to left field but Jamie Adams was there to make the stab. Shamblin got out of the frame getting Allison Bullard to fly out to end the game.

    The Golden Eagles grabbed the early 1-0 advantage on a solo home run in the first inning. The homer snapped Shamblin's 22.1 consecutive innings without allowing a run.

    The Cougars charged back with three runs in the third inning. Jaci Gonzalez knocked a double off the right field fence and moved to third base on a Jessica Valis sacrifice bunt.

    With two outs in the frame, Elaina Nordstrom tied the score at 1-1 with a RBI-single past diving USM shortstop Jessica Huerta. Christa Raley cranked a two-run home run to put the Cougars ahead 3-1.

    Raley struck again in the fifth inning with a two-run single up-the-middle stretching the Houston lead to 5-1. Valis and Katie Bush set the table with back-to-back singles, while Nordstrom loaded the bases drawing a walk. "It really gets me fired up to seeing other teams pitch around Elaina," Raley said. "It helps our batting order when those of us behind Elaina step up behind her in key situations."

    Valis' single to open the fifth inning pushed her to 56 hits on the season breaking Kristin Glowacz's freshman-record of 55 hits set during the 2002 season.

    Houston will step out of C-USA action hooking up with Texas Southern for a Monday doubleheader. First pitch against the Tigers is set for 4pm. Live stats will be available on UHCougars.com

    Game Notes
    Houston improves to 15-10 all-time against Southern Miss and has won seven of the last eight meetings in the series ... Head coach Kyla Holas reused her batting order from the third game of the Marshall series last weekend ... Holas is now 1-1 when using that lineup ... Holas is now eight wins away from reaching 200 career victories ... Houston improves to 28-7 this season when scoring more than three wins ... It was second time this weekend that the Cougars did not score first and won ... Houston is now 9-12 when not scoring first ... The Cougars also move to 4-2 in the final game of a Conference USA weekend series ... Jessica Valis has hit safely in 11 of last 12 games ... Of Valis' team-leading 56 hits, 41 of them have not left the infield ... The Shiner, Texas product has now passed Kristin Glowacz's freshman-record 55 hits set during the 2002 season ... Valis now turns her attention to the single-season hit mark and is four hits shy from matching Arelis Ferreris 60-hits set during the 2003 season for No. 5 all-time ... Katie Bush has scored a run in four of her last six games ... Bush added her eight multi-hit output ... Her 42 hits are now two away from matching Arelis Ferreris freshman-mark off 44 hits for No. 4 all-time for a freshman in a single season ... Elaina Nordstrom has reached base in 44 of 49 games this season ... Nordstrom has also drawn a walk in nine of her last 13 Conference USA contests ... She has hit safely in 18 of her last 23 games ... Christa Raley has hit safely in six of her last eight games ... Raley matched a career-best with four RBIs ... The last time Raley drove in four runs came back on February 17 with a grand slam against Sam Houston State ... She is the fourth Cougar to reach the 20-RBI plateau ... Jaci Gonzalez has reached base in 22 of 31 games when in the batting lineup ... Gonzalez has hit safely seven of her last nine games and added her third multi-hit outing ... With her two hits on the afternoon, the San Antonio, Texas, native is now three hits shy of reaching Michelle Keith's (2002-2005) 119 career hits for No. 5 all-time in program history.

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